Facilities and operations at AUT (sustainability)

AUT embraces sustainability through the operation of our facilities. Projects that provide sustainability benefits are being implemented as we move to environmentally restorative practices.


Five beehives at the North Campus produce honey that is used and sold in the AUT cafes. Also at the North Campus, a ‘solitary bee’ hotel has been constructed. It is based on designs by students from the School of Art and Design. Many native bees are solitary, so this hotel will support them as well as other insects.. Bees are essential for supporting the growth of a significant amount of the food we eat and for pollinating our native plants and trees.

Native planting

A preference for native plants is incorporated into plant and tree selections around the AUT campuses. A 2019 native tree survey of our three campuses found:

  • South Campus:  puriri, kowhai, totara and pohutukawa dominate with 22% native and 78% exotic (introduced)
  • City Campus: titoki, nikau, puka and rewarewa are in the majority with 79% native and 21% exotic
  • North Campus: pohutukawa and puriri dominate with 38% native and 62% exotic

Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences building – City Campus

This building, opened in 2018, is the home of the School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences. Sustainability measures included in the design of the building are:

  • Glazed plant rooms display the different mechanical systems and are used as an educational tool
  • High performance external facades and sun shading to limit energy consumption
  • Improved natural light distribution and low energy-use light fittings

Manu Hauroa building – South Campus

The Manu Hauroa building opened in 2017. Some of the sustainability measures include:

  • Future provision for on-site storm water processing management and treatment
  • On-site waste water treatment system with botanical wetland (to be commissioned)
  • Energy efficiency measures estimated to save approximately 720,000 kWh annually and 86 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. Some of these include enhanced insulation displacement ventilation, high efficiency LED lighting and heat pump chillers

AUT has set a target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50% by 2025 (compared to a 2015 baseline).

AUT is committed to decarbonising our operations with the following sustainability measures:

  • A working group to establish options for reducing and reporting on our emissions from transport (air travel, commuter travel and our fleet), which accounts for 70% of our emissions.
  • Working with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) to reduce our emissions from energy through efficiency upgrades. This includes phasing out gas and constructing progressively more energy efficient buildings as well as retrofitting existing ones.
  • Exploring new ways of reducing and managing our waste including rolling out organic waste collections and onsite processing across the whole university.

Here is a breakdown of our emissions in 2019, which generated 13,034 tonnes of CO2e*:

  • Air travel 41%
  • Commuter travel 32%
  • Electricity 15%
  • Natural gas 7%
  • Line losses 2%
  • Fuel 1%
  • Shuttle bus 1%
  • Waste 1%

*The information provided has not been audited however we are working with the other New Zealand universities to ensure that our methodologies are in line with theirs.

AUT has been implementing energy efficiency projects since 2009. Some projects completed over the past couple of years include:

  • LED lighting and lighting controls in the gymnasium (AH building) at North Campus, reducing annual energy consumption by 79,000kWh and 9 tonnes of CO2 emissions
  • LED lighting to the Sir Paul Reeves building (WG), set run times on escalators and refined air conditioning temperature settings reduced annual energy consumption by 190,000kWh and 23 tonnes of CO2
  • Energy reduction campaign at the City Campus student accommodation during winter 2016 and 2017, with actual savings of 96,000kWh or 13 tonnes of CO2 emissions

In 2015 AUT signed a Collaboration Agreement with EECA that provides a framework for continuing and implementing additional energy efficiency initiatives.

Conscious consumers

Four of AUT’s cafés (#newsfeed, Kaife, the Counter and Refuel) are Conscious Consumer accredited under four badges:

  • BYO cups and containers
  • Recycling
  • Vegetarian/vegan meal options
  • Eco-packaging

Only free range eggs and Fairtrade coffee are used at all the AUT cafes and all the packaging is compostable, except for the plastic beverage bottles.

Conscious Consumer website

Growing food on campus

Planter boxes are used for growing herbs and vegetables at the North Campus. Students are encouraged to take what they need and help maintain the gardens so they can learn how to grow their own food.

The planter boxes are part of a student led initiative called Foodie Godmother.

Mobile phone recycling

Mobile phone recycling stations are on all three campuses for students to use. Phones are either refurbished for reuse or sent to Japan for recycling.

Battery and device recycling

AUT recycles IT items at the North, South and City campuses, including:

  • Batteries
  • Printer cartridges: these are used to make TonerPave™, an asphalt road surface
  • Computers (these are refurbished or recycled)
  • Printers or photocopiers

Check Auckland Council’s Recycler directory to find a company to recycle equipment you have at home.

Auckland Council's Recycler directory website

IT sustainability benchmark

AUT commissioned Fujitsu to benchmark ICT’s activities against New Zealand and global organisations. AUT scored 55%, where global best practice is over 80%. All New Zealand organisations that were benchmarked averaged a score of 37%. AUT’s key areas for improvement include:

  • Audit the organisation recycling AUT’s ICT equipment
  • Wider considerations of future technologies
  • Opportunities for greater use of PC power management and settings

Most full time tertiary students are eligible for a tertiary student concession, which gives you discounted travel on public buses, trains and ferries with an AT HOP card.

Check out the AT website for travel planning options.

AUT’s electric bus

New Zealand’s first electric bus operates on the AUT shuttle service between the City and South campuses. The body of the bus was designed and manufactured in New Zealand and the bus is providing valuable AUT research for PhD candidates around the impact of deploying commercial electric vehicles. The electric bus has a range of 180km before it needs to be charged and CO2 emissions are reduced by 80% per trip in comparison to a diesel bus.

Bicycle parking on campus

There is bicycle and motorcycle parking available on each campus.

Waste initiatives at AUT

Ways we are reducing waste at AUT:

  • Food waste collections in Refuel café, the AUT main catering kitchen, Piko, the Counter and #newsfeed café kitchens and all seven teaching kitchens in the School of Hospitality and Tourism
  • Eight worm farms for processing some food waste from the School of Hospitality and Tourism
  • External and internal rubbish and recycling bins throughout the AUT campuses
  • Battery and electronic equipment recycling across the three campuses
  • Lawn clippings and mulch from tree prunings at all campuses are composted on campus and used on our gardens
  • Unused furniture is either donated to charity or the components are recycled

Eliminating single use plastic

AUT is working with staff and students to eliminate single use plastic from AUT. If we don’t act now, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea (by weight) than fish.

Our cafes now only use compostable packaging, except for plastic beverage bottles. AUT Student Association’s Vesbar is also offering metal reusable straws and eliminating plastic bags.

Water sensitive design

On the North Campus there are several management measures that reduce the amount of storm water runoff from the campus.

Vegetated swales and vegetated filter gardens were designed to absorb some rainwater and filter contaminants before runoff goes to storm water drains. Underground tanks also collect rainwater from the roofs of two buildings and are used for flushing toilets in these buildings. This water would otherwise go to storm water drains.

AUT's electric bus
Mobile phone recycling stations across AUT
There are mobile phone recycling points on each campus
recycling stations at AUT's cafe
Help us become 'zero waste': recycling, composting and rubbish bins at #newsfeed cafe
Beehives at AUT
Beehives at the City Campus produce honey that will be used in the AUT cafes

Studying sustainability at AUT

We offer a range of sustainability papers where 100% of class hours are spent on sustainability content.

Sustainability papers

Website search